Response to Sea Link Statutory Consultation

Southwold Town Council (STC) is in favour of both offshore wind energy and securing interconnector electricity supplies from continental neighbours, at the same time recognising the consequential requirement to modernise and upgrade the capacity of our electricity transmission system. What we strongly object to is the lack of co-ordination between the various stakeholders and projects threatening to have the cumulative effect of disrupting and damaging over many years the already struggling economy of East Suffolk and the treasured habitats and species of the Suffolk coastal area (AONB, SSSIs, SPA and RAMSAR). There are current plans (including Sizewell C) involving 6 nationally significant infrastructure projects within five square miles of this area.

Sea Link’s proposed project is only needed to bring electricity from Suffolk to Kent if the major substation at Friston (already given consent but subject to judicial review) is built. This substation with Sea Link’s and other projects’ proposed convertor stations in nearby vicinities would create a number of extremely large, high and imposing structures in an AONB with the further disruption of precious countryside and habitats by cabling works from multiple potential landfalls ranging from Aldeburgh to Southwold.

Sea Link recognises its duty “to bring forward proposals that are economic, efficient and   coordinated”, yet we see only cursory evidence of this in the statutory consultation  documents. Sea Link continues to promote itself as a standalone project with only limited scope to share its infrastructure with National Grid Ventures’ projects such as LionLink, but in practice these projects are on a different timeline making co-ordination implausible.

We are fully supportive of the Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR) “Early Opportunities” workstream being explored by the consortium of National Grid Electricity

Transmission, North Falls and Five Estuaries to develop and explore the feasibility of  coordinated options for offshore transmission infrastructure and we are against progressing existing radial proposals (including those of Sea Link and National Grid Ventures) before it is determined whether the offshore option is deliverable. The offshore option would allow power from windfarms and neighbouring countries to be taken south to brownfield landfall sites nearer to where there is the greatest need for consumption without turning East Suffolk into an Energy Superhub, which will inevitably meet with enormous local opposition.

The supposed “need for speed” should not outweigh exploring fully and properly an holistic offshore approach that in the long run could prove cheaper, less disruptive and take no longer to deliver for the benefit of all consistent with HMG’s commitment to achieve net zero        emissions by 2050. We urge Sea Link with other stakeholders to undertake and present a full appraisal of the offshore alternative before progressing further with its onshore proposal.